Oxford looking to charge for downtown square parking - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Oxford looking to charge for downtown square parking

Oxford's square is a popular place for residents, students, and tourists to eat, shop, and play, but because parking is so limited, the city is looking to begin charging for space. Oxford's square is a popular place for residents, students, and tourists to eat, shop, and play, but because parking is so limited, the city is looking to begin charging for space.

(WMC-TV) - There is a controversial proposal on the table in Oxford.

The parking commission wants to start charging for parking on Oxford's square.

Oxford's square is a popular place for residents, students, and tourists to eat, shop, and play, but because parking is so limited, the city is looking to begin charging for space.

"We're doing it to manage the parking that's available in a more efficient way," said Jeff Alford with the parking commission.

Finding a space at lunch time or at night can be a headache.

"It's pretty much impossible," said student Taylor Nelson.

Some will circle the square several times just to find a good location.

"You drive around a few times. You typically will find one somewhere, you might have to walk a little bit. It takes a few circles," Madison Helms joked.

By charging, the city hopes that students and downtown workers will walk, take the bus, or park in other lots off the square.

Nielson's owner Will Lewis wants to see the spots saved for customers.

"We've got to do something to change the perception that there's no parking here and saving the parking for the customers," Lewis said.

The change could also impact Ole Miss students' wallets.

"I come down here probably three or four times a week," said Buckner Corso.

When I told them they may soon have to pay to park, many of them said it would alter their downtown plans.

"I would probably not want to eat lunch here in the middle of the day if I have to pay for lunch and parking," Corso said.

Katelyn Miller said she might start walking.

"Honestly, it would probably reduce the amount of times I'd come to the square, because I'd be walking and like most college students, I'm pretty lazy," Miller said.

Downtown workers found the news particularly alarming because of how often they park.

"I come down to work twice a day, I usually work a double so If I have to pay every single time that's going to get to my wallet," Nelson said.

Other workers didn't seem to mind.

"We really don't have a lot of places but the little spots we do have, I feel like we should charge a little bit," Cameron Norwood said.

Alford said the commission will likely look to buy a kiosk instead of parking meters. He said credit and debit cards would work on the kiosk, along with an option to pay by phone.

He insisted that the change was not about generating money for the city, but instead managing the limited parking spaces that are available.

According to Alford, a parking garage has been discussed by the commission.

The commission hopes to hire a consulting firm in the coming weeks to plan out details including how much money they would have to charge to park.

Alford expects to start charging beginning some time in the fall.

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